DVD Shopping Bag: Swamp Thing the Series Vol. 3 - Mania.com

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DVD Shopping Bag: Swamp Thing the Series Vol. 3

An End Game for the Series?

By Robert T. Trate     July 20, 2010
Source: Mania.com

Dick Durock in Swamp Thing the Series Vol.3
© Bob Trate


This might sound strange but I had high hopes for this final volume of Swamp Thing: the Series. Not any hope that Alec Holland would be returned to his human form, hope that the series would wrap up some of its plots and finally have that grand battle between Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) and Dr. Anton Arcane (Mark Lindsay Chapman). This was also a chance for this critic to wrap up the series. I had reviewed Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of the series as well as the Return of the Swamp Thing (see review) movie. When I initially watched the series I was addicted to it, but since it was on while I was in high school my attention wavered to other things. The fate of Alec Holland aka Swamp Thing was always a complete mystery. Thanks to Shout! Factory I now know how this “live action cartoon” series ended.
Dr. Arcane
This volume starts off in the third season with the tenth episode titled “Lesser of Two Evils”. Arcane is in over his head yet this time it isn’t Swamp Thing stopping him. A rival scientist played by Cagney & Lacey’s Tyne Daly, eats up the scenery with an over the top accent and a diabolical plan. It would have really changed the series to have a female villain after Swamp Thing but halfway through the episode you are rooting for Arcane to prevail, which of course he does. Yet another mutant for the mines as Daly is hauled away. The rest of this season gave Mark Lindsay Chapman a lot of room to play around with his character. In “Cross-Fired” Arcane gets a personality switch and actually lives his life as a good person. The tragedy to the character is that he falls for Tressa Kip (Carrell Myers). His final moments as the hero are perfect in this Beauty and the Beast type episode. By far the best episode in this volume is “A Most Bitter Pill” where Chapman takes center stage and delivers a Shakespearean-esque monologue as he contemplates Swamp Thing’s demise as well as his own. Sadly for the series the final episode has little to do with Swamp Thing. If you are fan of the evil Dr. Arcane, with his outrageous Yahoo Serious hair cut, then it is a fitting end. For the series though it was a whimper instead of a bang.
The Plots
There were several to the series. The major one was the fate of Tressa’s son Jim (Jesse Zeigler). Jim was sent to a South American mine by Arcane. The mine and its purpose were revealed to the audience yet Jim’s fate is nothing more than a throw away line said by the characters own mother. The character of Dr. Anne Frank (Janet Julian) is mentioned but never appears again. Without out a doubt if she would have cured Alec Holland the show would have ended. So why didn’t that happen? What better way to wrap the series.
The running plots really fell short in this final volume as the environmental lessons took center stage once again. In “Future Tense” we see the effect that an environmental terrorist and a senator can have if they don’t come to terms with their struggle. “In the Beginning” has Arcane perverting nature with his own DNA again illustrating man’s disregard for nature. The message carries over to today but some superhero stories mixed in would have been great too.
There are few stand alone episodes that showed some crazy potential to the series. “Heart of the Mantis” was a modern day Edgar Allen Poe tale which pitted Arcane against a former mentor. The twist at the end is both fantastic and completely believable. What was probably the most comic book-esque story in the whole series was “Heart of Stone”. Zeus and Aphrodite send Medusa to Earth to find a man of pure of heart of defeat her. It ends with some spectacular effects, a perfect Arcane rant and even some Greek tragedy. 
The End
It ends with a smile and a wave from Swamp Thing and in essence from Dick Durock himself. Durock would go on to appear in two other things after the series ended and pass in September of 2009. A retrospective on the series would have been nice. Perhaps some interviews with the cast and crew. Anything from producer and director Tom Blomquist would have been a real treat. Shout! Factory has given smaller and shorter lived series their due with tons of special features. On this third volume set there was nothing. Perhaps it is no one’s fault. Maybe this series and its bizarre collection of stories are best forgotten. I for one have enjoyed the ride.
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Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.


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karas1 7/20/2010 12:54:18 AM

I remember this series.  They should have called it Arcane instead of Swamp Thing because most of the plots revolved around the villian.  Probably because the actor was so charasmatic and made the character so much more interesting than the ostensible hero.

Chopsaki 7/20/2010 2:27:46 AM

Ostensible...good word! I remember the 82 movie but I can't remember if I ever saw the 90's tv show. I probably saw a few episodes but I honestly can't remember much about it.

karas1 7/20/2010 4:42:15 AM

The episodes were only 30 minutes long.  Mark Lindsay Chapman was quite the handsome guy, unlike the Arcane in the comics who was a nightmarish freak.

redhairs99 7/22/2010 4:34:51 AM

Guess I'm kinda of late seeing this this week.  Was DVD Shopping Bag on the main page this week?  I never saw it.

Always was a fan of the original movie.  I remember watching this series on USA Network, but I don't recall any of the plots.  I did like the more detailed Swamp Thing costume they used for this series and the Return of Swamp Thing movie.  Not sure how they plan to make a Swamp Thing movie without Dick Durock.  He was GREAT as Swamp Thing.



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